We start our journeys from Kashmir but do not know whether we will die on the way or survive.
A few days back, a Kashmiri boy, named Basit Ahmed Khan, was beaten to death, or rather, murdered in Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan. Basit had a mother and four sisters to take care of, and was the only breadwinner in his family, as his father had passed away two years ago.
This killing of the 20-year-old was not big news at all for a common Kashmiri, we see many instances of dead bodies of students/workers every year, with no surprise.
Here, I want to pose some questions to my fellow humans:
Is being a Kashmiri a sin?
Is choosing to study or work outside Kashmir a crime?
Are we really putting ourselves in danger by choosing books over stones?
Well, there are lots of such questions roaming in every Kashmiri’s mind which scares us a lot.
An incident, similar to what happened with Khan, happened with me when I started my first ever journey towards Aligarh. Before I left for AMU, hundreds of suggestions were given by my family and relatives. I was told to not get off the bus on the way or discuss anything with anyone, and to not disclose my identity of being a Kashmiri.
With this in mind, I didn’t get off the bus until it reached Chandigarh and stopped in front of a hotel there. It was twelve o’clock in the night, and everyone got off the bus, either to eat something or to buy something to eat.
Forgetting everything I was told by my family, I also got off the bus to quench my hunger. I was heading back to the bus when four boys stopped me on the way.
“Aren’t you a Kashmiri?” was their first question. Looking at the faces of all four people, it felt like something scary was happening inside me, and I couldn’t even remember to hide my identity, as my face was giving away everything. But, to face this task, with a smiling face I answered, “Yes, I am a Kashmiri.”
“Ooooh hoo” was their reaction, which was no less than a nasty punch on my heart.
“You must be a stone pelter? We know everything. You bloody Kashmiris pelt stones on our army jawans,” they said.
“No No, I am not a stone pelter.”
“Shut up, where are you from in Kashmir?”
“Sir, Baramulla. I am a Gujjar (Gujjars is an ethnic agricultural and postural community) and I live in the mountains, I never pelt stones believe me.”
“Leave him, he is telling the truth,” one of them, fortunately, believed my lies (He was an angel to me.)
“Can I go now, brothers?,” I requested, in a very low voice.
The same guy who was questioning told me to leave by abusing Kashmiris (“Saalay Kashmiri,” he said.)
I controlled myself and silently went back to the bus. Now, what if I hadn’t controlled myself, and what if I had an argument with them, and what if they had checked ID card?
If I had done anything like this, then maybe my dead body would have reached home like Basit’s body. There are thousands of cases of Kashmiris suffering everyday, outside Kashmir.
When will this hatred for Kashmiris end? Our families send us out of Kashmir so that we didn’t have to see the situation there, so that we do not fall prey to the bullets there. Is Aligarh the only place where Kashmiris are safe and secure now? Yes, it is, Aligarh is not a place, it is a feeling for me.